Top 5: Favorite Open-World Games

So here’s a story. I just started replaying Skyrim. The end.

Well, I didn’t say it’d be a very exciting story.

I’ll have more to say on Skyrim later this week, but for now, it’s worth revisiting this post I recently wrote for Virtual Bastion on my some of my favorite open-world games. Sans, Skyrim. But I already told you that story.


As much as I enjoyed my first trek through Mass Effect: Andromeda, the game left me a bit soured with regard to open-world games. Surely the feeling is only temporary, but as I search for something to take its place that’s not Borderlands 2 (so fun!), I find myself avoiding anything that resembles an open-world experience (even though Borderlands 2 does kinda, sorta fit that bill). The dilemma, though, lies in the fact that I’ve woven my way through some fantastic sandboxes in the past, so why not pick one to play again or for the first time? Why not choose an open-world game that gives players freedom, provides an excellent story and a beautiful (or beautifully dangerous) environment, along with substantial or unusual side quests that are worth pursuing? Once I started looking at my options, the floodgates opened. I eventually came up with many more than five…

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Six Favorite Gaming Secrets…Or Maybe Five?

For United We Game‘s April writing challenge, I offered up this post which contains several real games secrets and one I made up. Maybe I could have worked harder at fooling everyone (all you smarty pants know your games, haha!), but it was fun making the sly attempt at trickery. Still, the secrets I listed remain some of my all-time favorites. Speaking of which, I could really go for some super-ultra-fast Street Fighter II Turbo right about now!


Image by Flickr user  Jason Devaun (CC)Image by Flickr user Jason Devaun (CC)

All month long, United We Game is celebrating secrets, hoaxes, and trickery in games with a new writing challenge. Click here for the details and join in the fun!

I’m not much of an artist when it comes to discovering secrets in games. While it seems that some players are imbued with a magical honing beacon that guides them towards easter egg after easter egg, for me, the act of finding secrets has mostly been the equivalent of blindly stumbling around in the dark hoping that I don’t impale myself on something sharp. I don’t necessarily go searching for secrets in games, so happening upon a secret something-or-other is a pretty special feat. Over the years I’ve run into a fair share of extraordinary moments where I feel like Indiana Jones grabbing that golden idol. And the giant rolling boulder of…

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iTunes Diaries, entry #18: Grand Theft Auto IV edition

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 


One of the things that instantly hooked me on Grand Theft Auto IV was the music.

Don't worry, we're still talkin' music here.
Don’t worry, we’re still talkin’ music here.

I had never played a GTA game before, but I had heard that some of the previous titles had really great soundtracks utilizing known, popular music rather than ambient backing tracks. I sunk nearly 100 hours into the game before moving onto less chaotic pastures, and during that time I paid close attention to the music, from the songs that played on the radio station(s) of my choosing to the songs that played in stores and clubs. And of all the beats appearing on GTA IV’s grandiose soundtrack, I latched onto two songs with which I became obsessed and later purchased: “Flashing Lights” by Kayne West featuring Dwele from Graduation (2007) and “Ooh La La” by Goldfrapp from Supernature (2005).

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Back in Liberty City, this time with motorcycles and techno

With the release of Grand Theft Auto V happening as I type (squee squee SQUEE!), it seems fitting that my mind should wander to my most recent GTA ventures.  While I’ll discuss it more in depth in a later post, I recently picked up Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for my tablet. Originally released in 2002, Vice City looks pretty darn good on the small screen. Though I’ve been a little slow to really sink my teeth into the game, this tale about Tommy Vercetti and his adventures in and with Liberty City’s organized crime underground is pretty interesting so far. I’m not a huge fan of the on-screen controls, so I picked up a cable that allows me to hook up my PS3 controller to the tablet, and it works great! When I remember that I’m not playing GTA IV, that is. The controls are much simpler and I often find myself pushing buttons that I think do something when they, in fact, do nothing. I’m also really digging the 80s vibe of the game. I could give or take the whole Miami-esque setting, but that music…oh that music.
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The greatest game I never thought I’d play, and the terrible thing about preconceived notions

“Wait,” my brain says as I type, “Didn’t you already talk about Mass Effect in this same vein?  Are you going to rehash things already?  Jeez, lame-o.”

Well now, hang on a second; it’s true that I didn’t expect to play Mass Effect or  let it become the obsession that it did.  But I’m talking about a game that, given my gaming past, I really didn’t think was right for me: Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA 4).

Grand Theft Auto 4 cover for the Xbox 360 © Rockstar, Mircrosoft, et al. (source)

Man, my fingers…well, they itch a little thinking about GTA 4.  Should probably get that checked.

But now I must do a flashback.  Sorry.

Continue reading “The greatest game I never thought I’d play, and the terrible thing about preconceived notions”